Lamentations 5:7

Man is naturally not merely gregarious, but social. The powers that be, an apostle teaches us, are ordained by God - from which we learn that political and social life have a Divine sanction. Accordingly, the Judge of all deals with men, not only as individuals, but as communities. This fact was present to the mind of the prophet when he wrote these words.

I. THE FACT OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE MORAL GOVERNOR. The history of the Jews is the history of a theocracy; but it embodied lessons which are adapted to all mankind. Nations have national privileges, national responsibilities, national probations, national rewards and punishments.

III. NATIONAL RETRIBUTION IS SOMETIMES DEFERRED FOR A SEASON. The prophets appear to have had a clear view of this law. Wrong doing in one generation was seen to be followed by punishment in a succeeding age. Jeremiah is the author of the well known proverb, "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." The seed (to change the figure) is sown by one generation; a following generation reaps the harvest.

III. THE CERTAINTY THAT PENALTIES WILE, BE INFLICTED UPON THE IMPENITENT. There is indeed a sense in which even the repenting and reformed suffer for the sins of those who have gone before them. But for the impenitent and unreformed there is no exception, no escape. We, says the prophet, speaking of himself and of his rebellious and ungodly contemporaries - "we have borne the iniquities of our fathers." The apostasy and rebellion of the former generations were visited upon those who endured the horrors of the siege and the degradation of the Captivity. There is mystery in the providential appointment that, not only shall every man bear his own burden, but that some shall bear the burden of those also who have gone before them. But the fact remains, and it gives solemnity to the life of families and of nations.


1. The teaching which was profitable for Israel is equally adapted to England, and indeed to all the nations of mankind. The Lord is King, and from his government and authority none of the earth's inhabitants is free. - T.

Our fathers have sinned, and are not, and we have borne their iniquities.
The terms unfolded, When in the depths of our distress the iniquities of our forefathers come to our remembrance, at once they aggravate our sins and augment our sorrows (2 Kings 22:13; Daniel 9:16; Jeremiah 14:19, 20). When God comes to find sin successive in generations, the last shall be sure to drink deep of the cup of Divine vengeance (Nehemiah 9:34, 35, 38; Jeremiah 4:24, 25). When ancestors' sins are not our cautions (Ezekiel 18:14), it deeply aggravates the guilt of our souls (Nehemiah 13:18; Ezra 9:7; Jeremiah 16:11-13; Zechariah 1:4-6). The longer heaven's patience is abused, the greater and more dreadful is the wrath of God that is deserved (Romans 2:4, 5; Romans 1:18; Jeremiah 49:9-11). If we promote sin by indulgence, or by example in our posterities, we shall be sure to entail judgment upon our issue (1 Samuel 2:29, 34, 36). Children are many times executors, they enter upon their father's sins, and you know that in justice the executor may be sued, the debtor being dead. God may punish the sins of the parents upon the children, and yet the cause of the punishment may be in themselves (Hosea 4:12, 13). As if any being sick of the plague infect others, every one that dies, is said to die, not of others', but of his own plague. Had their parents been good, had they been pious and zealous for God, there would have been no ground, no cause for this complaint; they could not then have said, "Our fathers' iniquity is laid as a burden upon our shoulders." It is good to be good parents, parental holiness is advantageous to posterity (Psalm 102:28; Psalm 112:1, 2; Proverbs 14:26; Jeremiah 32:39).

1. Exemplary piety in the fathers makes an impression upon the children's hearts (Zechariah 10:7).

2. Heaven's benediction descends from the parents to the children (Acts 2:39).

3. Wicked fathers infelicitate their posterity (Job 5:3, 4). The Jews were very unhappy parents (Matthew 27:25). Children, plead if you can your ancestors' integrity before the Lord. The father's piety is the child's privilege (Psalm 116:16; Psalm 86:16; 1 Kings 8:23-25). Let us labour to be good ourselves, and to plant holiness in our families, that so we may have God's blessings estated upon our children (Genesis 18:19).

(D. Swift.)

Assyrians, Egyptians, Jeremiah
Assyria, Egypt, Mount Zion, Zion
Bear, Borne, Dead, Evil-doing, Fathers, Iniquities, Punishment, Sinned, Sinners, Weight
1. A complaint of Zion in prayer unto God.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Lamentations 5:7

     6752   substitution

Whether an Angel Needs Grace in Order to Turn to God?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angel had no need of grace in order to turn to God. For, we have no need of grace for what we can accomplish naturally. But the angel naturally turns to God: because he loves God naturally, as is clear from what has been said ([543]Q[60], A[5]). Therefore an angel did not need grace in order to turn to God. Objection 2: Further, seemingly we need help only for difficult tasks. Now it was not a difficult task for the angel to turn to God; because there was no obstacle
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Man's Inability to Keep the Moral Law
Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God? No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life perfectly to keep the commandments of God, but does daily break them, in thought, word, and deed. In many things we offend all.' James 3: 2. Man in his primitive state of innocence, was endowed with ability to keep the whole moral law. He had rectitude of mind, sanctity of will, and perfection of power. He had the copy of God's law written on his heart; no sooner did God command but he obeyed.
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The book familiarly known as the Lamentations consists of four elegies[1] (i., ii., iii., iv.) and a prayer (v.). The general theme of the elegies is the sorrow and desolation created by the destruction of Jerusalem[2] in 586 B.C.: the last poem (v.) is a prayer for deliverance from the long continued distress. The elegies are all alphabetic, and like most alphabetic poems (cf. Ps. cxix.) are marked by little continuity of thought. The first poem is a lament over Jerusalem, bereft, by the siege,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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